Saturday, January 9, 2010

Direct to Publisher vs. Agent Represented

Over the holidays, I conducted a little experiment. I bought two middle-grade novels. Book number one is fairly popular and was sent directly to a publisher. Book number two is also popular, but the author is represented by an agent; one of my top choice agents. The second was published by a big house, I will say that. I wanted to see if there were many noticeable differences between them.

I like both books a great deal. They both pulled me in immediately and kept me reading at a steady pace. I was glad I read both of them. However, I did find some definite differences.

Book one contained tons of adverbs. Not just a few, they were littered throughout the entire novel. There was also extreme use of the word “had”. I counted nine on one page. Okay, I was really paying attention and I specifically chose that page as my example because of its extreme “had” usage. It was overly used though. There was also some echoing here and there. The book had it’s strengths, to be sure. It had bold images and a storyline that I absolutely loved.

Book number two was very professionally written. I couldn’t find herds of “hads” or an abundance of adverbs. It was polished. It too was a great story. The character development was superb. The imagery was good. It didn’t have a storyline that I loved though. I liked it, I just didn't like it-like it.

In conclusion, I loved the story in book one. In some ways, I lost a little respect for the author though. In book two, I could appreciate a well-crafted story. I liked the characters, liked the story, but didn’t fall in love with it. So there were differences and some of them even surprised me.


  1. This is an interesting comparison. I have to wonder if book two lost its voice through over-editing. It can be a hard balance. Great post, thanks for sharing!

  2. Lisa,

    Thanks for sharing your blog address and your blog. You make some interesting comments in your post.

    It makes one wonder if there is a correlation between agent-publishing house-novel. Or if it is a matter of the novel itself or, conversely, the editor at the publishing house.

    I would hate to think that by finding an agent, I am relegating my writing to a lower standard. Equally disturbing is the idea that the smaller houses have inferior editors. I hope it is simply a combination of many things that created the discrepencies in the joy you found while reading each book.

    It's interesting none-the-less and certainly something to keep an eye on.


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